Swans Commentary » swans.com February 14, 2011  



The Journey "Beyond"
Archetypal Meanings for Today's Men


by Francesca Saieva


Translated by Claudine Giovannoni



(Swans - February 14, 2011)   We are walking on the footprints of Odysseus and Aeneas, the heroes of the poets Homer and Virgil, when crossing the "shadow's threshold," in an attempt to "unearth" the roots of the past, to come to hidden truths.

In the mythological narrative, wandering-identity-temporality-memory assumes takes universal characters, according to a non-rational perspective of human thought. In fact, this explains the interest that always has been stimulated within philosophy and social psychology. Mythos and logos, myth and thought, mediate, in fact, the need to "rely upon" and the "need to make judgments." These are the "two halves of the same language," in terms of "word that tells to the one which shows" (Grimal) the sense of a journey in the elsewhere.

In the literary tradition, Odysseus and Aeneas are the protagonist of the katabatic's experience, namely "of descending," and the relevance of myth allows a re-reading meta-historical.

Into the perennial metamorphosis in the search for an "original entity" unfolds the archetype meaning of the journey. And if the "wanderings" of the two heroes has different motivations and purposes (journey/atonement for Ulysses, away from Ithaca for ten years; Aeneas' epic journey, until the landing in Italy to establish a new civilization), the transformation acts as glue.

The encounter with the underworld and the disclosing of its secrets open up at the end in accepting their own destiny (fate).

During the crossing to the Hades, which is the ancient name of the afterlife, old pains restore Aeneas to live, while the ancient descendant's faults resurface.

As in Dante's Divine Comedy, where the poet finds himself in a long pilgrimage into Hell (his limits), Purgatory (his self-knowledge), and into Paradise (vision of the Other). Heroes, then, but above all, men on the search of their consciousness. A sort of progressive ownership of the sense of human, between need and cyclicity. The alternation of opposites, life-death, love-destruction, memory-oblivion, beyond that common thread of journey, becomes the beginning of action, restoring voice to the shattered ego of the "Palus" (Marsh) of Sanguineti in Laborintus, experimental work of this Italian poet of the late twentieth century: the "Palus" is the prototype of a "land post-nuclear war," neo-capitalist (Risso), of a society that moves between open spaces (surrounding reality) and interior spaces (introspection); that is to say a spectator-agent society, which looks critically at the historical facts acting on political and economic consequences as well as psychological repercussions for each "subject-person." Today more than ever the myth must be interpreted historically and socially; we must know the past to continue to be present in reality. The journey "over" is for sure a manifestation of the true nature of the soul, but also a collective imagination in the surrounding reality. Recognizing our own nature means to interpret the world. Where sharing became acting, even better, transformation. A reading of the past in perspective of a new history. An appreciation for the intellect that searches through the "eyes" of the dream into the daily nightmare.

"La Mort, 'the rest is silence.' / the woman-kamikaze: no arms; her mother, no legs, / killed in a refugee camp," writes Guido Monte (Italian writer of Swans) in àdhara part II, poetry inspired by Virgil's VI book of the Aeneid, in an attempt to a deconstruction of the myth, maintaining its own content, now enriched by forms of "linguistic contamination," alternatively expression of creativity in dealing with social issues, reflects of a universal condition of humanity. And the "weak eye" of the Virgil's Enea, the words of the Sibyl, they now turn to the hidden truths, into the risk of another "mad flight" on the "way to health." Will Sybil, symbol of life and death, submit to the protagonist of the mysteries of Hades, almost to reveal "the ancestral archetype condition that has no more boundaries of space and time" (Monte). A destiny of self-knowledge for operative consciousness among individuals of a community. The process of self-knowledge (that the trip seems to deepen) promotes in every man the awareness of its work in the world, in relation to the multiplicity of needs, commitments, rights, and duties. In the dream's journey realistic and psychoanalytic characters mingle in the knowledge that the archetypes of life-death-rebirth identify themselves in a dynamic and evolutionary process of historical knowledge, with its "returns" and fallouts.

"we do finally come to the light clad fields, / that know personal suns and stars. / and my father, la justice, / the one for whom I passed the big rivers of the erebus. / i find him busy to control other souls (le jugement) / before they do again the big step to the life, ins leben." (G. Monte, àdhara)

The caves of the land of the Cimmerians (where Ulysses saw the shadows of the dead), the Hades, the Palus of Sanguineti, are forgotten lands, but in this "desert and empty" old fears resurface, ghosts of the mind that, according to Jung, give "rise to primitive panic," translated into discovery of archetypal polarity: identity/otherness. Into the Palus/marsh the subject discovers himself alone but participates in a social group within his commitment is requested. The past stands as a critical judge of the present, in achieving the future in a process alert to symptoms, now advanced, of a planetary breakup driven by the "commercializing" of mankind, by the quantification of time and space in this global era.

Required, therefore, "a dialectical structure of awakening -- Benjamin writes, in terms -- of overturning the world of the dreamer into the world of the wakened." Because, in my opinion, there are no atavistic truths, reactionary, that can not be overcome in relation to common demands of social life. A philosophy of praxis as civic engagement, the possibility of recovery and reconstruction in terms of community, on the basis of a rediscovery and "regenerated" Identity, able to meet expectations, desires, and future projections. In and out of myth, therefore, a return to life for "noi les objets à réaction poétique" (Sanguineti).


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About the Author

Francesca Saieva was born in 1972. She teaches philosophy and pedagogy, and was an adjunct professor at the University of Palermo. Her Ph.D. work was Il Viaggio - ricerca del sé e dell'altrove ("The Voyage - In search of the self and the somewhere else," Graduate School of Pedagogy, University of Palermo, 2004). She has published articles on Italian journals and on Swans Commentary.   (back)

Claudine Giovannoni calls herself a "World citizen." Crossing the boundaries of the Earth, Water, and Air, she lives experiences that touch her soul bringing her to publish her writings. Her novels are in Italian: Il Kumihimo del Sole, 2005 - Nebbie nella Brughiera, 2007 - Il Cristallo della Pace, 2010 (Seneca Edizioni, Torino). She is a dreamer and an idealist, and lives in Switzerland, where she shares with her family the love for Nature with the greatest respect and veneration.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published February 14, 2011